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Steve Bernal - 'cellist/bassist/composer/performer

Steve's list of accomplishments and credits reads like an atlas. From collaborations with eclectic pop artists such as Bill Callahan, Graham Reynolds, and Argentine guitarist Federico Aubele, to performances with the University Orchestra of U.T., Austin Symphony Orchestra, Imbroglio String Quartet, and avant garde artists Pauline Oliveros and Arnold Dreyblatt, among many others. His compositions have been featured in the PBS documentary series "State of Tomorrow" and, as performed by Steve, in First Night Austin New Year's Eve Celebrations of '07 & '08. In April of '08 he and sound designer/electronic composer William Meadows were invited to perform their piece "Pluto: Requiem for an Icy World" at the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music of the United States annual conference, held at the University of Utah School of Music, Salt Lake City. The piece is written for solo 'cello and computer-generated electronics in surround-sound. This is just one of the pieces included on "Decibels", Steve's upcoming release on Lanreb Music Records.

The inspiration for "Decibels" is the simple and straightforward motivation to express the myriad musical ideas that have accumulated during a long and widely varied career. As musician-for-hire, these ideas languish on the proverbial "back burner", and Steve strongly believes that the time is now for them to be heard.

The pieces that make up the recording all have somewhat of a purpose, if you will. "Hidden" grew out of a series of warm-up exercises with which a practice session typically begins. "Dreams & Concrete" was commissioned by First Night Austin New Years Eve Celebration, and composed as a kind of antithesis to the typical New Years night. Performed and co-written with digital sound designer Loren Dent, his contribution to the music is the ambient sound generated by the Reason computer program, triggered by electric guitar. The distorted 'cello part near the beginning of the piece was recorded by sending the signal of the recorded instrument through an Echoplex tape delay, Big Muff distortion pedal, and into Vox AC/30 and Fender Twin Reverb guitar amplifiers, turned-up very loud, indeed. Producer/engineer Darwin Smith came up with that great idea, and many others, too. "Pluto: Requiem for an Icy World" was written for Steve by William Meadows for the New Music Co-op's Electrons & Phonons concert in 2006. The piece utilizes the Kyma computer program to generate ambient sounds. The "Suite for Solo 'Cello & Subsonic Continuo" was written for the opening of German artist Michael Wutz' "Silver Lining, Flat Lining" exhibit at Volitant Gallery in Austin, 2007. Each movement correlates with a triptych that depicts the story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. Heavy stuff, but it's not all doom & gloom!

As a whole, the recording conveys a balanced arc, wherein the first track is the beginning of the day, the second is about the pondering of existence in our modern world, the third is about exploring the universe in which we live, and the fourth through seventh tracks are about the human condition, spirituality, and inevitability. Which, hopefully, motivates inspiration.

And the cycle continues...


Synopsis of Steve's Piece "The Shape of Sound"
Composed and Performed with Darwin Smith at First Night Austin 2009

Music flows through space, free to go, uncontrolled, loud or not. The goal for this piece is to transport you, the listener, somewhere other than where you a ctually stand. Every sound you hear is generated from a single 'cello, and our city. Cars, voices, engines, and wind can all be sources of musical sensation. I hope that this New Year's Eve can be a memory of something heard and felt as a token of the prize for another good orbit.

copyright © 2018 by Steve Bernal
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